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Working the Holiday Shift

December 24, 2023
by Mark David Siegel

Hi everyone:

During my residency, I worked every New Year’s Eve, usually in the ER. If we remembered, we’d pause to count down the seconds to midnight before returning to our patients.

Illness never lets up, so our profession calls us to work holiday shifts. In our program, we give every resident at least one holiday off, but inevitably we miss celebrations. I’ve spent countless holidays away from family, though Heide always has a warm meal waiting for me when I get home.

Though the hospital isn’t home, the mini-trees, tinsel, menorahs, and Christmas cookies do make it seem homey. It’s a sacrifice but also a privilege to staff the holiday shift, side-by-side with colleagues, helping patients who, like us, have nowhere else they can be.

Whenever I work over Christmas, I ask patients to promise me that next year, they’ll celebrate at home, even if the wish is a fantasy. But isn’t that the point of the holidays, to wish for something fantastical, like a second coming of life?

It’s hard to be away from family over the holidays, and for those of you working the holiday shift, I hope you experience the pride and satisfaction you deserve for being a beacon of hope in the days ahead.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all. We’ll be driving to Vermont on Tuesday for a few days of rest, though I’ll be setting time aside to read residency applications- while thinking about the sacred work you do each day of the year.

Take care and stay well,


P.S. It’s time for our annual Happy New Year’s Project, celebrating our residency’s diversity. I know many of you speak languages in addition to English, so how do you and your family say Happy New Year? Tell me by Friday so I can include your greeting in our next PD note, on January 1!


Submitted by Mark David Siegel on December 24, 2023